Batten Your Tent Hatches

Improve Tent Storm-worthiness
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Anyone can camp reasonably comfortably in fine weather, but when the wind is howling and the rain is coming down in buckets, you need skill and knowledge to guarantee a good night's rest. Here are five simple techniques and modifications to improve your shelter's storm-worthiness.

A Foil for Flap

A tent that hasn't been set up tautly and squarely will flap and slap noisily in a stiff breeze. The racket can be loud enough to keep you awake all night. Tightening is par for the course with hooped tents, but even freestanding tents need their sails trimmed to achieve maximum strength and storm resistance.

The key to a flap-free tent is a taut, wrinkle-free tent floor. For most tents this requires six or more pegs inserted in precisely the correct locations.

Unfortunately, the subterranean section of the Murphy Law firm will always have buried a rock or root precisely where you want to insert the final peg! Well, you can thwart ol' Murphy with these simple attachments to the tent's peg loops:

Buy a coil of nylon utility cord (a.k.a."parachute cord") from a camping or hardware store. Choose white or a bright color — not black — to reduce the chances of tripping over your anchors.

Cut off enough 4-foot lengths to make one for each of the existing peg loops on the tent floor.

Melt the cord ends to prevent fraying by using a flame or soldering iron. Do it outdoors where you won't breathe the fumes.

Tie one piece of cord at its center to each peg loop (fold the cord in half, poke the fold through the peg loop, pass both free ends of cord through the fold, and pull tight).

Wrap the two ends of the cord in opposite directions around your peg, bush or rock, and finish with an easily released bow knot (what you tie your shoes with) or a slip reef knot.

Fly Right

You've had a long day, it's blowing and raining, your eyeglasses are fogged and your fingers are fumbly. The tent is up and now you are installing the fly over it.

You start connecting the fly, but something's wrong: it doesn't seem to fit. Darn, you've just fastened a half dozen fly connectors to the wrong positions on the tent! (or you simply put the vestibule at the wrong end!). In a rainstorm, the mistake could result in a wet tent body. Here's how to position your fly correctly every time:

Attach a piece of plastic flagging tape or bright colored synthetic fabric ribbon to, say the front left corner of the tent.

Attach a similar marker to the corresponding corner of the fly.

Line up the two marked corners and do up the connectors.


Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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